Writing to a Curator
But here is another story about someone I was pursuing through Facebook while writing this book. I added a curator as a friend and sent him a message asking if I could interview him for my radio show. He wrote back and said OK, but he was traveling, so he told me I could contact him the following week. That was after we had exchanged about three Facebook messages.
When I followed up with him the following week to set a time for me to interview him by phone, he didn’t answer me. I wrote to him on and off for another two months and I never got a reply. I couldn’t catch him on live chat either. After I had written many unanswered emails he eventually replied and said he would be happy to talk and that we should pick a time. He apologized for being busy. I did the interview, it went well, and I now consider him a friend.
I wanted to include this example because this is what happens in the best of circumstances. I knew this guy wanted to be interviewed on Yale Radio, which hosts my radio program on the arts, but the fact is that most people will not return email and calls unless you are persistent. It is a fact that seems counter to reason, but I have found it to be true on many occasions. I have interviewed many businesspeople who have said the same thing: You must call and write to people over and over again. So for the people that do not have an interest in knowing you (like the guy I was interviewing), you have to work harder still.
How to Follow Up
I learned about professionals’ approaches to this kind of active networking by talking to businessmen and women who try to make new contacts all the time, and also from a friend who had recently quit her job. My friend, who is a fundraiser with a successful history, felt she was being harassed at her job and went to Human Resources. The Human Resources person asked her not to press charges and instead to take their comprehensive coaching and placement package for as long as she wanted until she found the perfect job. It was a generous offer, because it meant she would be given the personal coaching she needed to land the perfect job, for as long as it took.
I read over all the materials she had been given and there was a section on following up that nicely summarized what I had heard before from many different people. It mentioned that when trying to get an interview or meet someone, the most common complaint was that people don’t call back or return emails. Their solution to this problem was straightforward: Never say that you will just wait for their call; always say you will follow up. That means at the end of every letter you send and at the end of every voicemail you leave after you have sent in a résumé or an application or a set of images, you must say something like, “If I don’t hear from you, I will call (and/or email) in two days.” Then you contact them in two days. It could be the very same email you first sent, with a note added to the top saying you are “following up on the email below.” Then you can end it by saying you will follow up with a phone call. Go back and forth this way until you get a response. You could change the subject of the email to “Following Up.” This is really a polite and professional way to contact someone without being a stalker. For most people, this kind of persistence will make you seem very passionate and determined. I send letters and do follow-ups twice weekly. That means you can call or email on a Monday, and then again on a Wednesday or Thursday, and do the same the following week. If it really goes on for months you can sometimes take a week off—but not more— until you get a response.
To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here. To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.